Posts filed under ‘Capitol City Young Writers’

Thumbs-up Thursday!

thumbs_upLast week, I took my 5-year-old to his end of year preschool picnic. His teacher said they had nicknames for the days of the week and Thursday was, you guessed it! “Thumbs-up Thursday”

So, not that you all are preschoolers, cause you’d be exceptional if you could log online and read my blog, but I thought we could give “thumbs up” to our favorite books and writing resources.

Warning: your participation is needed here!

My fav’s? Whew, the list would go on forever, but here are some of my favorite writing books and websites for writers:

Writing books:

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott: Want to know the true life and struggles of a writer? Ms. Lamott tells it like is, but adds a dose of humor throughout the tips she gives to keep your writing spirits high. (warning: mature language and content)

A Writer’s Book of Days,  Judy Reeves : My copy is dog-eared from so much use. Chock full of writing prompts, tips and quotes from authors who are household names.

A Young Writer’s Guide to Getting Published,  Kathy Henderson : I used this book as a resource in my latest class, Publish Me!Filled with writing ideas, how-to’s on searching for markets and formatting your manuscripts, for every writer, for every genre. Tons of books referenced here.

Favorite writing sites/blogs:

This one, of course!

Capitol City Young Writers

(Meet authors, editors, literary agents in person! Apply to be an editor or writer for the Young Writers’ Literary Journal; plus mentorship opportunities and Quarterly Newsletter – fee to be a member)

NaNo’s Young Writers Program

(tips, tools and chat rooms are a buzzin’ during National Novel Writing month in November, but active throughout the year as well)

 Smart Writers

(lists of contests and tons of links to other young writers’sites)


(Free newsletter for elementary thru college writers with great contests!)

Share your favorites with us!

May 28, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Achieve Excellence TODAY!

“If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less-than-excellent work.”
Thomas J. Watson ~ 1874-1956, Founder of IBM

OK, time for an honesty check. Do you ever turn in or submit lazy work? Meaning, you know you could do better, but it’s too hard or you’re not quite sure what needs to be fixed in your writing. So, you chalk it up to “it’s the best I can do.” But is it?

Writing is a competitive sport. I say “sport,” because like baseball, hockey, soccer, etc., writing takes practice, repetition and training. You’ve heard that some authors are “born writers.” But what you don’t hear is that even the best of our league needs to practice, refine and revise. Even the famous names you see on the NY Times Best Seller’s lists have been rejected at one point in their writing careers. And you will be too. It’s part of the game.

But, if you push yourself, join a writers’ group to get feedback on your work, take writing classes, read books on the craft* and WRITE EVERYDAY you will achieve excellence and that coveted byline (aka publication).

I speak from experience, my young writers. Wanna know how I handle rejection? Read about it here.

What do you do to strive for excellence? Have you experienced rejection in your writing? Share your story with us!

*for a list of excellent writing books, check out the side bar “Writer’s Toolbox” on my Writers Inspired blog!



May 7, 2009 at 12:34 am

“The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking.”

Robert H. Schuller, Minister and Author

Have you ever talked yourself out of a dream?  Here’s the scenario: You get this amazing idea, you map it out carefully, your adrenaline is pumping, excited butterflies twitter in your belly, then you vocalize your idea. Maybe you share it with a friend, parent or teacher. The expression on their face is anything but excitement, in fact maybe it is a frown or (horror!) a smirk.

Other people’s opinions can be overcome. But only if you have full belief in your own dreams. If you have doubt or a negative attitude, well, my friend, your dreams will never become reality.

But, Mary Jo, I’m just trying to be realistic, you say.   It was a pretty cool dream , but it could never happen. I don’t have the time, the money or the resources.

OK, I get that.  And we all fall into a slump of doubt. But the key is to get out of that slump.

What works for me is surrounding myself with people who have joy in their lives. They are happy and positive influences on my own thought process.

You should also find a group of like-minded writers. Find a writers group, organization or class where you can reveal your dreams and listen to the dreams of others. Believe me, nothing gives you a boost like talking about your writing with other writers. Check out Capitol City Young Writers, where you can become part of a community of young writers mentored by professional writers in every industry (songwriting, novelists, memoirists, radio broadcasting, etc.) If you’re local to DuPage County, IL, come to my monthly writers groups (see the events page for details).

And, lastly, adopt the motto: Never Give Up! Sometimes, it helps to plow through the rough patches by just chanting nevergiveup, nevergiveup

For more tips on how writers get over those stubborn bumps on the road to success, check out this article, The 7 Habits Of Highly Successful Authors, by Suzanne Harrison   

Or share your ideas here! What do you dream of accomplishing?  Do you need a helpful dose of positive thinking?

April 27, 2009 at 12:24 pm 3 comments

Call for Editors!


Have you ever wondered what a day-in-the-life of an editor would be like?

Now’s your chance!  By becoming a member of Capitol City Young Writers, you have the opportunity to apply for one of the editor positions of our new literary journal. 

A literary journal brings together the finest writings of a specific group or organization, in a number of different styles and genres. Journals tend to focus on central themes, with a variety of expressions that describe, illustrate or portray that theme. They represent the sharpest writing and thinking related to particular subjects or themes, while allowing plenty of space for the voices and perspectives of individual contributors.


Senior members (ages 12-18) of Capitol City Young Writers will have the opportunity, each year, to apply for one of the editor positions listed below. Young editors will have the opportunity to learn how to run a literary journal, develop the skills that are necessary to act as an editor and learn how to work as a team on a collaborative project.  For those editors who are active writers, the process of reviewing submissions and determining which stories are publishable will provide invaluable insight and experience into the art and craft of writing.  Learning what doesn’t work is just as important as discovering what does work.  The creation of the youth run literary journal allows the overseeing staff the opportunity to actively show the importance of editing and revision to its members.  We will allow youth editors the opportunity to reconsider a story after revisions are made.   


Students will meet and work through a variety of methods through the use of technology and the internet.  Geographical location will not make a difference to those applying. 

Regular training meetings will take place to mentor the youth editors through the process monthly, and at times, weekly as the final stages of the journal near. 


These positions require time, dedication and the desire to read. Read more details on the positions available, how to apply and a sample outline of the work involved before submitting an application:

Capitol City Young Writers Literary Journal

Applications due by May 1, 2009

March 24, 2009 at 8:34 am

Wanna join the Hottest writers group to hit the scene?



The energy of a room full of young writers: pens tapping, notebook pages rustling and the voice on the mic 20 feet away is that of a best selling author! Learn how published authors come up with their ideas; how they write realistic characters even though those characters may slay dragons; tips to combat writers block and much, much more. All for being a part of Capitol City Young Writers.

Capitol City Young Writers is a new non-profit organization dedicated to teaching and inspiring young writers world wide.  “The goal is to educate not only on the art and craft of writing in the genres of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir and screenplay, but in real world applications of writing such as broadcast radio, journalism and technical writing.”

A young writer located anywhere in the world can become a member: a Senior Member would be those in grades 6-12 and a Junior Member would be any grade up to grade 6.

What do you get as a member*? A Junior Member will have access to all on-line materials, including  video tapings of 5 meetings each year, the Write On! Newsletter published 4 times a year and a chance to participate in writing contests year-round. Senior Members will have all the above benefits, plus the ability to attend the 5 meetings a year, each hosted by new guest speakers (authors, literary agents, editors, etc.) and participate in hands-on writing workshops. Plus, the Senior Members can apply for internship opportunities to work on and/or edit the CCYW Annual Literary Journal (a collection of writing by young writers!), attend writers’ conferences and writers’ workshops.  Our Senior Members will also have the rare and exciting opportunity to work one-on-one with a published author in a mentor program (details to be posted soon.)

Good Golly – what could all of this cost me??

$100 a year? No

$80 a year? Not even close!

$56.78 a year? Alright, now you’re getting sarcastic.

Members of any level can join for the annual fee of $25. That’s right, folks! $25 for all you see here and more. But Wait! If you join right now we’ll throw in this fine handcrafted silver-plated collection of Ginsu Knives!

Just kidding!!

But, seriously, guys. Haven’t you been wanting to take your writing to the next level? Capitol City Young Writers is that level. Dream. Write. Publish.

To learn about the organization, upcoming meetings, events and contest deadlines and to sign up for your membership, visit

*Currently all meetings are being held in Sacramento, CA, but our goal is to have a CCYW location hosted in every capitol city in the US.  All members will still be able to “attend” on-line via tapings of the most recent meeting.

**We also have sponsorship opportunities for your teacher! He or she can join as a Sponsor for only $10/year and have the same access and benefits as that of a Junior Member.  Spread the word!

February 24, 2009 at 4:47 am 1 comment

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